Nvidia has launched its 8 Series of GeForce graphics processors.
Manufacturers such as Asus, Foxconn and Evga simultaneously announced production boards featuring the range-topping 8800 GTX chip.
Also available is the GeForce 8800 GTS. Both boards pictured here are from Foxconn. We've listed the core information at the bottom of this article, but as previously reported on Tech.co.uk, the board is around 24cm long with two PCI Express power connectors.
We've known of the announcement for several weeks, but Nvidia has improved its launch strategy immensely so that production boards are ready - or almost ready - to buy when the announcement is made.
The new graphics processors provide crucial support for the latest version of DirectX, the gaming platform for Windows-based games. DirectX 10 is the new release of the platform which will be an integrated into Windows Vista.
Nvidia has also been working with game developers to help develop games for DirectX 10.
New nForce SLI chipset
Also announced was the nForce 680i chipset. Unsurprisingly, there's full support for Nvidia's multi-card SLI technology as well as HD video. The new boards also provide for overclockers.
The resultant motherboards include a third PCI Express graphics slot. This could be to add an extra physics card or, alternatively, an extra graphics card to drive more screens.
As it has with its graphics boards, Nvidia has also decided to involve itself in the design and manufacture of high-end cards, available through appropriate partners.
One such 'Designed by Nvidia' offering is pictured below, from Evga.
The new 8 series cards make several new strides for the fast-evolving graphics market. The chips feature new Quantum Effects physics processing. Physics processing gives added realism to movement.
The chips also have a unified shader architecture, a technology ATI previously utilised in its graphics chips for the Xbox 360.
With this arrangement, there are no separate vertex and pixel shader pipelines but a single unified shader pipeline capable of executing different types of instructions.
The GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) has 128 individual stream processors, each running at 1.35GHz. These can be dynamically allocated to vertex, pixel, geometry, or physics operations depending on what is needed.